U.S. President Donald Trump grudgingly signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill into law Friday, hours after threatening to veto the measure because it didn't protect undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children or fully fund his proposed border wall.
At a hastily arranged White House event Friday afternoon, Trump told a group of reporters he signed the sweeping funding package "for the purpose of national security" even though he was "unhappy about a lot of things" in the massive funding package.
"I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again," he said. "Nobody read it. It's only hours old. Some people don't even know — $1.3 trillion, it's the second-largest ever."
His signing of the bill averted a federal government shutdown at midnight Friday.
Trump told a group of reporters he looked "very seriously at the veto" but decided to sign the bill given "the incredible gains" for the military.
He said the measure will keep the military funded and provide the largest pay increase for U.S. troops in over a decade. It also increases defense spending by more than $60 billion from 2017. As part of the bill, overall defense spending will jump to $700 billion, the largest increase in 15 years.
At the event that was televised live from the Diplomatic Room at the White House, the Republican president blamed Democrats for the lack of protections for DACA recipients in the bill.
"DACA recipients have been treated extremely badly by the Democrats. We wanted to include DACA, we wanted to have them in this bill, 800,000 people and actually it could even be more. And we wanted to include DACA in this bill. The Democrats would not do it," the president said.
DACA recipients are undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. They were protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that began in 2012. Trump, however, rescinded the program late last year while giving Congress six months to come up with a permanent plan for the program recipients.
Despite Democrats' efforts, the bill makes no mention of protections for these so-called Dreamers. Democrats had called on Republican leaders to bring to a vote on the House floor a range of proposals to fix DACA. Meanwhile, federal judges have ordered the Trump administration to keep in place certain parts of DACA while legal challenges make their way through the court system.
Trump had insisted that any DACA legislation include funding for building an expansive border wall along the nation's southern border with Mexico. Ultimately, the spending bill provides $1.6 billion for the border wall, well short of the $25 billion Trump requested for the project.
While disappointed that the border wall was not fully funded, Trump told reporters he will put the money to work immediately.
"We funded the initial down payment of $1.6 billion. We're going to be starting work literally on Monday on not only some new wall — not enough but we're working on that very quickly — but also fixing existing walls," he said.
Trump also urged Congress to give him a "line-item veto for all government spending bills" in the future.
In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such a power — legislation giving the president a line-item veto involving tax and spending provisions — was unconstitutional.
Earlier Friday, Trump tweeted he may veto the bill because "the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded."
The Senate passed the spending bill by a 65-32 vote early Friday after the House of Representatives approved the measure Thursday.
Lawmakers had just hours to read the nearly 2,200-page bill released Wednesday night.